Sustaining the Mobility Revolution
by Elizabeth Sullivan

Getting around San Francisco by bicycle is quick, cheap and fun. But what about San Franciscans who can't use a bike for every trip? The city's transportation infrastructure encourages car use. Car rentals and taxis can be expensive and unreliable, so many bike friendly people keep their cars.

Transportation planning theory and common sense tells us that individual car ownership encourages use. By the time a driver has paid the fixed costs of insurance, financing, and registration, they have an incentive to get their money's worth by driving as much as possible. The added costs of each extra trip are small when compared to the amount of money they've already spent just to own the car. We need options besides individual car ownership.

San Francisco will soon have another sustainable transportation option. City CarShare, fiscally sponsored by the SFBC, is an innovative, non-profit mobility service that will make vehicles available to people on a per-use basis. Our project is inspired by dozens of car-sharing projects already successfully controlling the impact of the automobile in Europe and Canada.

What is Car-Sharing?
Car-sharing is a neighborhood-based, time-share car rental that allows people to use vehicles when needed and to pay for a vehicle based on how much they drive. Cars are kept in small neighborhood lots, within easy walking distance and near public transit. When members want to use a car, they call an 800 number and make a reservation. They are billed on a monthly-use basis like other utilites.

Members save money on insurance, maintenance, repairs, registration, and monthly-car payments. They pay only for the amount they drive, based on a combined hourly/mileage charge. The prices are competitive with rental cars, and in most cases dramatically better.

For instance, a member might check-out a car for an hour to pick up a friend at the airport at 1:00 a.m. They would pay roughly $8.50 for a 20 mile trip. Prices reflect the true cost of driving, allowing members to weigh the real needs of each trip and make their decisions based on a fair trip-cost comparison.

Car-sharing makes it easier for people to give up their car and to switch to more sustainable ways of getting around, translating into reduced emissions, less fossil fuel consumption, and less waste from manufacturing new cars. For San Francisco, it means greater ridership of public transportation, less space devoted to roads and parking lots, and more space available for the things that make our city great, like farmer's markets, public parks, sidewalk cafes, and community gardens.

City CarShare's mission is to promote car-sharing as a community-based transportation option that respects the environmental, economic and social integrity of our neighborhoods and planet. We are fundraising and working with volunteers to make this project come to life. Call us: City CarShare, 415-285-5842.